So far, it appears that most of the blogosphere agrees with the decision, even those coming at it from various angles.
Derek Jeter’s career’s OBP: .385
Johnny Damon’s career OBP: .354
Derek Jeter GIDP the last two years: 45
Johnny Damon GIDP in last two years: 9
So Jeter should get on base more often and have fewer opportunities to ground into a double play. This would seem to make sense.
David Pinto, who’s much smarter than I am, figured out that the new look would give the Yankees three more runs a year. If that results in one more victory, it was worth it.
Jeter is a groundball machine. In 2008, he led all of baseball in GB% with 58.3%. That isn’t new though, as every year since 2005, he’s been around the 60% mark. Combine those groundballs with the fact that he’s lost some speed (back-to-back seasons of significantly below career avg SB%) and lost some power (decreasing IsoP and increasing AB/HR), and you have the making a man who enjoys DP. If moving up Jeter one spot makes him less likely to ground into double plays, then by golly, go for it.
So far the only dissenting voice I’ve heard is Michael Kay’s, which just tells me that (noted Baseball expert and historian) Randy Levine doesn’t like it. He argues that Jeter’s opposite field hitting is better suited moving Damon along, and that the GIDP avoidance ONLY counts 162 times a season, at the beginning of games. While GIDP isn’t the best reason to make the move, anything that can be avoided that many times is worth doing in Baseball.
I would add two notes to support the move. Brett Gardner hitting in front of Jeter will be very tough to double up, especially in situations where they start the runner. Jeter’s ability to hit the ball to the right side will be even more useful with Gardner on the basepaths. Also, this is the first concession Derek has had to make to age, the next one will be moving him off shortstop.
Baby steps, baby steps.
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